SEEING AND PERCEIVING
Oliver Sacks has an unusual problem. He can't recognize
other people's faces. In fact, he doesn't always recognize himself when
he's looking in the mirror. Sacks is also a neurologist who's fascinated
by brain disorders. We'll talk with Sacks and with the painter Chuck Close,
who also suffers from face-blindness. In this hour of To the Best of
Our knowledge, the many ways of seeing the world.
Today, we'll talk with Oliver Sacks about the
neurobiology of vision. We'll also examine the science behind synesthesia
- why some people can hear colors or feel the flavor of food on their
fingers. First, Oliver Sacks, the celebrated doctor who writes about
some of the brain's strangest disorders. His latest book, "The
Mind's Eye," is a study of rare visual impairments caused by neurological
disorders. It's an unusually personal book for Sacks because
it reveals his own struggle with a disorder called facial blindness.
Steve Paulson talked to Sacks recently about some case histories.
Susan Krieger not completely blind, but her
vision is bad enough to make her legally blind. Although she prizes
her self-sufficiency, she recently got a guide dog, Teela, who is now
her constant companion. She tells Jim Fleming that this raises
some basic questions about how Susan Krieger thinks of herself, things
she writes about in a memoir called "Traveling Blind." Ken
Nordine recites his word poem "yellow," which leads to
a discussion of synethesia. a neurological condition which causes one
sense to cross paths with another. David Eagleman is a neurologist
and the co-author of the book "Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering
the Brain of Synesthesia." Anne Strainchamps asked him to describe
the condition. Also, Jim Fleming reads a short excerpt from "Speak
Memory, by one of the literary world's most famous synesthetes was Russian
novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote about his "colored hearing."
Chuck Close, a painter famous for his huge canvases
and his uncanny ability to portray his subjects with almost photographic
realism. He has a neurological condition that prevents him from recognizing
people's faces. Today, Chuck Close is in his early 70s - still painting,
with brushes strapped to his hand - and now the subject of a biography
by his friend Christopher Finch. Close and Finch talked with
Steve Paulson about Close's painting career
CD copies are available at 1-800-747-7444.
Ask for program number 11-02-06-A.
- After Sacks:
Vijay Iyer w/ "Human Nature"
- After Krieger:
Ken Nordine w/ "Yellow"
(Rubber Frog Music)
- After Eagleman:
Messiaen w/ "Des Canyons aux Etoiles"
Performed by London Sinfonietta
- Music under Nabokov reading:
Simone Dinnerstein w/ "English Suite No. E in G Minor, BWV 808"
On "Bach: A Strange Beauty"
- After Close and Finch:
Vijay Iyer w/ "Desiring"
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